February 12, 2015

Sen. Brown Opening Statement at Banking Committee’s Hearing on Regulatory Relief For Community Banks And Credit Unions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing entitled “Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions.” 
Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.
Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement: Hearing on “Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions” 
February 12, 2015
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses.
At last September’s hearing, a similar group of witnesses to today’s discussed a variety of regulatory relief proposals. 
Before the end of last year, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, several of those proposals where there was bipartisan consensus. 
I spelled them out at Tuesday’s hearing and won’t repeat the list today.  But they were the work of members on both sides of the aisle and showed that we can indeed work together to improve the regulatory climate for financial institutions.
If we hope to find consensus on more regulatory relief proposals for community banks and credit unions this Congress, we will need to engage in a process similar to the one that allowed these bills to make it across the finish line. 
That means finding consensus among agencies, industry, and consumer groups—all of our witnesses this week.
At my first hearing in 2011 as Chair of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, Senator Corker and I heard from some of the same organizations that are testifying before the Committee this week about the opportunities and challenges facing community banks. 
It is notable how far the regulators’ have come since then, in no small part because Members of this Committee have asked them to do more for small institutions.  
The regulators understand the concerns being raised by community banks and credit unions – they made it clear in their testimony this week and in their actions over the past several months.
They have responded by making – or considering – changes to their supervision and regulation of these institutions in a way that lessens their regulatory burden, while at the same time safeguarding safety and soundness and ensuring strong consumer protections.
As this Committee begins a process to determine if there are actions Congress should take to provide additional regulatory relief to the smallest financial institutions, I believe we need to:
·         Better understand the impact of the regulators’ efforts;
·         Determine if there is more the regulators should do, through the EGRPRA review or other means, to relieve regulatory burden;
·         Vet the proposals being recommended at this week’s hearings; and
·         Build stakeholder consensus on proposals.
The Privacy Notice bill, which I mentioned on Tuesday, has gone through this type of process. 
We know that the CFPB has done all it can within its authority to address this concern of community banks and credit unions.
The current proposal, reintroduced by Senators Moran and Heitkamp earlier this week, has broad bipartisan consensus – with 75 cosponsors last year – and has been vetted. 
I believe the Committee should take action on this bill.
Another bill, to allow privately insured credit unions to become members of the Federal Home Loan Bank system, which I introduced last Congress, has begun this process as well. 
We know that there are no additional actions FHFA can take, and I believe that stakeholders are open to changes to the bill to reflect concerns raised at the end of last year.
I think this is a successful model for our consideration of other regulatory relief proposals. 
It doesn’t mean we will agree that every idea deserves action. 
And I want to reiterate that I am not interested in moving proposals that weaken or roll back Wall Street Reform, or undermine safety and soundness and consumer protection. 
But, I think we should act on the proposals that we all agree, after fair consideration, will make a difference for the smallest institutions.
This is how the Committee has done its work in the past. 
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to continuing working with you on these issues.
In advance, I thank the witnesses for their testimony.